Tracing the origin of Biryani to Mumtaz Mahal

Another interesting story is competing with the origin of biryani again. The story traces the origin of biryani to Mumtaz Mahal in this version. The history of biryani holds few legend hands, according to a fable. Mumtaz Mahal was a Mughal Empress and chief consort of Emperor Shah Jahan. During her visit to army barracks, she found that the militia was under-nourished. Fitness is imperative in everybody’s vigor and the army life can be physically tough. They need to be served with the balanced nutrition food to keep them physically tough.

Shah Jahan, the fifth mughal emperor was a very generous person and always took the responsibility of his army and Mumtaz his wife always had a deep insight on the diet that their army was served with. As the soldiers need to head on the physical challenges during the war times, they need to be super fit and believing this fact she took care of her army.  Thus she asked to prepare an innovative dish that was inexpensive, quickly prepared and which hold high nutrition values.

It was the chef’s job to give a balanced and healthy diet as a result he prepared a layered dish where each layer was cooked in ghee, spices, yogurt, onions, almond etc. Saffron was added to the layers and the dish was Dum-cooked in a Handi. Layers of pre-cooked items such as rice, sheep, chicken, and vegetables added great nutrition value to the dish.  Thus the chef prepared the dish with the rice, meat, spices and served the complete meal to the army and the dish “Biryani” was created. Sources say that the preparation took very less time and served the entire military troop. There are many theories concerning where the biryani was first created and this stands among one such stories. Sources say that the preparation took very less time and served the entire military troop.


Beginning of Biryani

I have long been interested in knowing the history of biryani and the day one of my quest went good. It has a rich culinary history that one could easily get inspired of. It’s believed that biryani originated in Persia and that it might have taken different routes to travel many parts of the world. The cooking style (dum) and the name have been the sources to conclude that the dish originated from Persia/Arabia. The word “Biryani” is derived from the Persian word “berya” which means fried or roasted. The rice (unwashed) was fried in ghee and that gave the rice a nutty flavor.

This wonderful wholesome dish belongs to the family of South Asian rice dishes especially made with spices, rice (usually basmati), meat/ vegetables/ eggs and many more. Biryani is often served with the Yogurt sauce, raita, fresh sliced tomato, onion, cilantro and Nan bread. Muslim travelers and the merchants played a predominant role in spreading it throughout the Middle East and South Asia and eventually it got popularized in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are many theories about how the biryani had arrived India. The name biryani stems from Persian origins and sources believe that it could have travelled via Afghanistan to North India or it could have been bought by the Arab traders via Arabian Sea to Calicut.

Few believe that “Taimor”, a Muslim ruler bought the dish from Persia to India in 1394. And that Awadhi Biryani from Lucknow where the biryani was first started in India and thereby it had been spread to many other regions in India. It had been the favorite dish of many for all the generations. Biryani had got global recognition for its best taste and flavor.